BENIN CITY, NIGERIA. September 25, 2020… The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice and lead organisation implementing the Monitoring Transparency and Accountability in the Return and Management of Assets (‘MANTRA) project has expressed serious concerns over the exclusion of Civil Society Organisation in the process leading up to the Memorandum of Understanding for the return of €5.5 million between Irish and Nigerian governments.
Executive Director of ANEEJ, the Rev David Ugolor while reacting to the contents of the MoU between both countries said exclusion of CSOs in the process leading up to the MoU is at variance with the principles of the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
“We are concerned that there is no part of the MoU where Civil Society was mentioned. Our government has always been carrying Civil Society along in previous repatriation processes and we do not know why in the case of Ireland, CSOs are completely shut out,” Ugolor wondered.
While welcoming the return of the €5.5 million to Nigeria to finance infrastructural projects, Rev Ugolor also wondered what stages of the three projects namely: the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano express Road, the Second Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan Express Road will the Abacha IV be financing since the Abacha 111 ($311.9million) repatriated from the Jersey and U.S.A is also financing the same projects.
“For the purposes of transparency and to enable the National Assembly play their oversight role as well as for CSOs monitoring the use of the funds, it will be good that the Irish and Nigerian governments make it abundantly clear what stages of these projects would the returned asset be funding.
The MoU between the Irish and Nigerian Governments provides that the recovered assets will be deposited in the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), which is managed by the Nigeria Social Investment Authority (NSIA). “We hereby urge the NSIA to put the information of the stages the €5.5 million will be funding in their website for access by Nigerians and members of the international community.” Ugolor demanded.
ANEEJ Executive Director expressed happiness that the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN has informed the public that the implementation of the MoU will be monitored by the identified Civil Society Organizations (CSO) to be recruited under the project and would also be audited by an independent auditor in line with International best practices.
Rev David Ugolor averred that the Irish government has a responsibility to continue to monitor the process of use of the funds and update members of the international community how the returned asset is being used.
Meantime, ANEEJ and its partners in a previous press release have expressed their willingness to carry out end-to-end monitoring of the use of the returned €5.5 million from Ireland.
It would be recalled that ANEEJ and its 8 mantra partners drawn from the six geo-political zones of Nigeria with support from DFID under its Anti-Corruption in Nigeria (ACORN) programme have mobilized over 800 other CSOs across the country to carry out end-to-end independent monitoring of the repatriated $322.5million from Switzerland being used for Conditional Cash Transfer programme to poor Nigerians and for the first time since 2004 repatriations, working collaboratively with the government of Muhammadu Buhari successfully prevented the re-looting of the returned asset as contained in various published mantra field monitoring reports.